I loved the high seating position, as compared to the Jazz. It gives a good commanding view of the road
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Hello all, I would like to share my experience about my first purchase – Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara (Mild Hybrid Zeta AT). I have been an avid reader of team bhp forum since my college days and I am really excited about my first post.
I shifted to Hyderabad, in late 2022 as part of return to office. I had saved some money during the Work from home phase, and had the itch to buy a new vehicle, for commute to office. I started window shopping for two wheelers back in March 2023 (right when the hot summers started). After a near miss accident with a TSRTC bus on a Rapido bike, my parents strongly discouraged me from choosing a two wheeler.
Small car window shopping
So, with a budget of 8L, I started window shopping for a new car. My requirements were:
- Petrol Manual (I learnt on an automatic, and I really wanted to drive stick shifts)
- Small car (preferably sedan)
- Atleast 3 star safety rating
With these criteria, I zeroed in on the following cars (with the pros and cons, in my humble opinion)
This was the first car I considered as I was slightly biased to Hondas. We have a memorable fuss free ownership with our family car (2017 Honda Jazz V CVT) and I was expecting the same from Amaze.
- Spacious sedan, considering its compact dimensions. Sitting in the driver’s seat felt like home.
- (Honda specific) – Physical HVAC controls. I miss these on our Jazz. The touch sensitive buttons on the Jazz are pretty distracting. Another important thing I observed was the Max Cool option. To test its limits, I turned on the Max Cool option, on a hot summer afternoon (35+ degree celsius outside) and drove the car up the incline under Durgam Cheruvu Bridge. The car did not break a sweat, even in second gear, and as the SA promised, the cabin cooled within a few minutes. I was pretty impressed by this feature. Very much appreciated in hot Hyderabad summers.
Smooth gearbox and lovely engine (I liked it better than the Hyundai i10/Aura engine)
Less features for the price. The mid spec (S variant) covered the basic creature comforts like keyless entry and 2DIN audio system. I was surprised to see the V variant dropped from the Amaze. Usually the V variant is value for money. The fully loaded VX variant included cruise control, touch screen ICE, auto AC, start/stop button etc. But, it costed about 10.3L OTR. It was almost 1L more expensive than the lower trim. Hyundai Aura SX(O) had a few more features, and costed 9.6L OTR (70k cheaper for more features)
2 Airbags as compared to 6 on its Korean rival.
Hyundai Grand i10 Nios :
- Small hatchback, perfect for city driving
- Feature packed, especially in the higher variants (Sportz onwards)
- User Friendly interiors and comfortable driving position for a 6ft tall person like me.
- Gearbox was a tad bit too notchy and the shifts didn’t feel smooth
- The mid spec Magna did not feel value for money, as compared to Sportz. I had to consider stretching my budget to 9L for a feature packed Sportz variant
- Engine felt a bit underpowered, especially while driving around in the hilly areas of Madhapur/Jubilee Hills. I had to downshift a lot to keep the power rolling in, while driving on the steep inclines near Durgam Cheruvu Bridge (Madhapur).
- Better boot space as compared to it’s hatchback sibling (Grand i10 Nios), within the same compact dimensions
- Comfortable (not as roomy as Amaze though) backseat
- Feature packed right from the top – 1 variant (SX). For a 50k price difference, with respect to i10, this felt like a better value for money car.
- Six Airbags as compared to two airbags on Amaze. Was also 70k cheaper than Amaze.
In addition to the cons mentioned for i10
- Styling was a bit polarising, and I wasn’t a fan of the rear end, especially the rear three quarters.
With respect to other alternatives,
- Maruti Suzuki: The viable hatchbacks and sedan in my budget were rated poorly on the safety front (Swift, Ignis and Dzire).
- Tata: Tiago/Tigor were an enticing option considering Tata’s expertise in making safe cars. I did contact my nearest Tata showroom for a test drive, but couldn’t get one. I kind of lost interest after that.
I had to dig deeper into my savings to buy a new car now. My heart was keen on Amaze, as I had a soft corner for Honda. But, it was pricey at 10.3L OTR for the fully loaded model. My brain was keen on Aura, as it made more sense from value for money point of view. I was getting a lot of creature comforts at around 9.2L OTR (SX variant). This was significantly cheaper than the Amaze.
Due to some personal and work commitments, I had to pause my car shopping till June 2022.
Change of plans:
At around the same time, in June 2022, my parents took the Jazz for a road trip to rural areas and ended up damaging the underbody for the umpteenth time. The Jazz with its super low ground clearance (165mm unladen) was unable to survive their trips.
This incident, made me change my plan. The Jazz was clearly not suited for my parents’ frequent road trips to rural Karnataka. They needed a change of car more than I did. So, I decided to buy them a new SUV, and use the Jazz in Hyderabad. The Jazz suited my requirements well (I had to sacrifice my desire for a manual gearbox). It was compact, yet very spacious; was very comfortable to drive on both city roads and highways; and was reliable and fuss free.
- Petrol AT (Convenience in Bengaluru traffic)
- High ground clearance (much needed for those rural road trips and speed breakers in Bengaluru)
- Spacious, should be able to seat two 6 footers back to back in comfort (Jazz being our first car and it spoilt us with space. My mother wasn’t willing to compromise on this factor)
- Safety (4 star at least)
- Rear AC vents ( Jazz lacked it, and the rear passengers complained about lack of AC a lot)
With the new requirements, I went window shopping with parents for an SUV in Bengaluru.
We went to Naara Kia and the SA was really friendly and helpful. He briefed us about the features and the specs. I really liked the car, but there were a few drawbacks.
- Lovely DCT gearbox-Engine combo
- Feature loaded with creature comforts
- Loaded with safety features (6 Airbags, ESP etc.)
- Backseat wasn’t as spacious as our Jazz. It felt like a downgrade.
- Automatic variant was available only the higher variants. The variants had sunroof, which hampered my headroom.
We ruled it out, as it was similar to Kia Sonet, under the skin.
We checked out Key Motors, Bannerghatta Road, for Tata Nexon. The SA appeared to be disinterested and just walked us through the feature spec and showed the car inside out
- 5 Star GNCAP rating
- 209mm GC, ample enough to tackle the unpaved roads.
- XZA variant was feature loaded and most importantly, no sunroof
- I wasn’t a big fan of AMT gearbox after driving a friend’s Grand i10 Nios and my aunt’s Ignis. The shifts felt slow and jerky as compared to CVT on our Jazz. It might not be the right comparison, but AMT wasn’t my favourite.
- XZA variant had rear AC vents, but that compromised back seat space for the middle passenger (really short bench). This made it feel like a four seater rather than a five seater.
- Two airbags only, even on the top spec
We did request a test drive, but the SA never reverted back to us.
We decided to try out the new Suzuki Vitara Brezza next. A few days later, I checked out Brezza at Varun Motors (Hyderabad). I didn’t go through it in detail but I observed a few things,
The new one wasn’t as great looking as the previous model. The previous model was smart looking and proportionate. The new model had really big wheel arches with undersized tyres and not so great looking cladding.
The top spec overlapped with Grand Vitara (which in my opinion looked far better proportionate). I could get a bigger car, if I stretched my budget a bit more.
With that in mind, we decided to check out Grand Vitara @ Kalyani Nexa (J.P.Nagar) , when I came back to Bengaluru.The SA (Sharath) was a really friendly guy who walked us through the features and specs.
My mother liked the space and the features and most importantly AT was available on a non sunroof variant with decent feature list (Zeta variant)
- 210mm GC (sold on this)
- Suzuki reliability and low cost maintenance
- 6 Airbags and 4 star GNCAP rating (for the platform I hope)
- Was feature loaded to our needs (Rear AC vents, Cruise Control, Auto headlamps, 10 inch touch screen with wired and wireless CarPlay/Android Auto)
- Great rear space with recline option
- Boot space was a major let down at 373L. Not the segment best at all. But, we were light packers, so we decided to ignore this con
- Engine was a bit lethargic. Pretty drivable in the city but not meant for enthusiastic driving.
- LED headlamps placed too low. This might sound like nitpicking but I didn’t want my headlamps damaged by a random miscreant bumping into the car. I faced such incidents with my Jazz.
We zeroed in, on the Zeta variant and requested for a test drive. Sharath promptly arranged an extensive test drive the next day and we liked the comfort and convenience in city traffic. We didn’t get a chance to drive the car on open roads, but we were fine with it.
Few days later, my father was back in town and we went to Nexa showroom to gather his feedback too. He was impressed by the back seat comfort and the front seat comfort and most importantly the ground clearance (210mm).
On August 18th, 2023, we booked Zeta AT mild hybrid Brown colour by paying an amount of 11,000. With the basic accessories fitted, the car costed approximately 19.69L OTR. The dealer gave us ₹19k discount and a few extras like TPMS and leatherette seat covers. The final price was 19.5L OTR. Sharath promised a delivery time around 19th September, 2023.
Sometime, around 1st September, 2023; Sharath informed that Zeta AT variant would be dispatched soon, but he was unsure about the colour. We were a bit optimistic that it might be brown.
A week later, Sharath confirmed that a Blue colour car is available. After some initial apprehension, we decided to go with Blue colour. I paid the full amount by 7th September, 2023 and they invoiced my car.
Within a day or two, my car was registered and I got my vehicle number too. (Bengaluru RTOs are way quicker than Hyderabad RTOs).
On 11th September, 2023, I headed to Nexa stockyard to check out the car in person.
At the stockyard
The delivery experience was good. We got a goodies bag, with keychains and a car charger. Unlike the Honda Jazz delivery experience, we didn’t receive a photo frame or chocolates. After gifting Sharath, as a token of appreciation, we took the car out for a quick spin before the auspicious time ended. It was barely a 2km drive, to fill 5L complimentary petrol.
We then, took the car to a temple for pooja and headed home.
Car parked at our apartment complex(with it’s cousin Hyryder in the background)
I didn’t get to spend much time with the new car, as I had to drive back to Hyderabad soon, in our old car (I finally inherited the Jazz).
My observations in the limited time, I spent with new car (three days to be precise). We drove the car mostly in the Bengaluru City traffic with just one highway run to Krishnagiri:
- I loved the high seating position, as compared to Jazz. It gives a good commanding view of the road
- The Jazz wasn’t a particularly small car, but Vitara was a whole size bigger. Taking tight U turns especially in narrow four lane roads of J.P.Nagar was a bit cumbersome.
- Auto start/stop feature: Initially I found it annoying, as the engine would kill itself upon hard braking. But then, I managed to figure out the ways and instead of fighting the system, I embraced it. Managed to get some decent fuel efficiency, thanks to it.
- AC: To be honest, Bengaluru has moderate temperatures during September, so we didn’t get a chance to test the AC. Whenever I set it to Auto 24 deg Celsius, the blower speed never crossed 2. Review from the back seat was that, the rear AC vents functioned as expected and no complaints.
- Features: CarPlay and Android Auto were convenient and worked without bugs. The touchscreen Ui was simple and intuitive. Auto headlamps were convenient. I don’t remember using the right stack for anything other than turn indicators. The front armrest was a boon, especially during long drives (Sorely miss this on the Jazz).
- Cruise Control: I got a chance to try this out on a highway drive to Krishnagiri. It was pretty convenient on NICE (I think, it’s NECE now) road. Setting the speed to 75kmph boosted the fuel economy. Couldn’t use it much on the Hosur Road due to heavy traffic.
- Special mention: The glass used in the windows. It was slightly tinted and it does keep the cabin cool.
At the end of my 200kms stint with the car, I was pretty happy with my purchase. It really felt special, as I finally bought my first car, as a gift to my parents.
We skipped the following cars:
- Feature loaded
- Comfortable to drive in city and highway
- 188 mm GC. With that soft suspension setup, I wasn’t sure if it could handle the unpaved roads.
- Polarising styling. Even after three years of its launch, I still can’t make peace with that styling.
- IVT models had a waiting period of over 6 months
Seltos : Creta’s cousin
- Feature loaded
- Mature and clean styling
- 188mm GC. But a firmer suspension setup should be fine.
- Firmer suspension might not be a great idea on the unpaved roads
Was feature packed on higher variants
Safely styled crossover
Low ground clearance (180mm)
Poor headroom space and cramped interiors. I was really uncomfortable in the driving seat.
Hector/Harrier : Very spacious cars, but sadly out of my budget.
- Five star safety
- DSG gearbox and powerful engines
- In my humble opinion, they do look like jacked up hatchbacks. And also, low ground clearance.
- DSG gearbox reliability issues
Hyryder: Grand Vitara’s cousin
A very viable option, but we had to let it go, as the waiting period was very long (six months on an average)
Grand Vitara Hybrid:
- Better fuel efficiency, albeit for a few lakhs more
- Zeta Hybrid had a digital cluster as compared to analog cluster on the mild hybrid.
- Boot space was abysmal. At 250 odd litres, it was a little less, even for light packers like us.
- Battery replacement and new technology could be a problem during servicing (SA’s words)
And that’s a wrap. Apologies for the really long post
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